As the country celebrated Raksha Bandhan on Tuesday, the festival reaffirming bonds between brothers and sisters, there were no celebrations in many homes in Bihar with sisters only praying for the well-being of their abducted brothers.
There was no festivity in the Pandey home in Patna on Tuesday. Akash Pandey, 12, was kidnapped while he was on the way to his school on August 10. Akash's sisters Akanksha and Ankita have been waiting for news about their only brother for the past 17 days.
Both prayed for their brother's safe return on the day of Raksha Bandhan. "With our brother not around, there is no question of celebration," Ankita said. <b1>
"We only prayed to god for his well-being," said Akanksha, tears welling up in her eyes.
A day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced that police had failed to trace Akash, a Class VIII student of the DAV School in Patna, his family members hope for a miracle to get him back soon.
The scene was no different at the home of Ankit, who was kidnapped April 12 this year from outside his school in Patna and later killed by his abductors.
Vibhisek, 14, was also abducted from this city and killed on August 3. His cousin sat in front of his photograph and recalled the celebration they had last year.
Several families in Patna, Begusarai, Vaishali, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Chapra and other districts also did not celebrate the Rakhi festival.
Nitish Kumar, who came to power in November 2005, had promised to turn Bihar into a crime-free state within three months. But police records suggest there has not been much change in the law and order situation.
Kidnapping has become a thriving industry in Bihar. Nearly 5,000 people, including several children, have been abducted in the state in the past one year. In the first six months of this year, 2,217 people were kidnapped in the state.
Figures received by the Patna High Court from district judges indicate there were about 1,800 cases of kidnapping registered in Bihar in 2006 against 1,697 in 2005.
However, MP Gupta, a senior lawyer of the high court, put the figure higher, saying 4,849 kidnappings took place in Bihar from July 2006 to June 2007.
Professionals, businessmen and school students from well-off families are often the target of kidnappers. Hundreds of professionals have migrated to other states or have sent their children to boarding schools elsewhere to escape the dragnet of kidnappers.